Saturday, August 8, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ Hollander of Hungary

I am using the Surname Saturday prompt to review the ancestral lines for my husband's family.

As far as I know, the only Hollander who came to America was my husband's paternal grandmother, Lena, after she married her husband, Joseph Handler.

Thanks to the Family History Library, which has been microfilming (and now digitizing) records from around the world, I have been able to trace Bubbie Lena's ancestors for several generations through the vital records found on FHL microfilms. Hungary records before 1895 are still only on microfilm.

Hungary Civil Registration, 1895-1980 is available online at, though for Tolna District, the records are not yet indexed; you have to browse through them (which is kind of like scrolling through microfilm).

When I searched the microfilm in late 2011 and early 2012, the earliest Hollander I could find was Samuel Hollander, whose name is mentioned in the marriage record and death record for his son Leopold.

Generation 2: Leopold Hollander was born in the 1830s in Bezdán, Bacs-Bodrog, Hungary, according to his marriage record. He married Babette Kohn on June 9, 1862, in Bonyhád, Tolna, Hungary.

The following part of his son's 1886 marriage record has the groom's name on the left: Samu (Samuel) Hollander with his occupation: Pipafaragó (pipe carver) and his birth place: Bonyhád. The next column lists the groom's parents' names: Lipod [Leopold] Hollander with his occupation, also Pipafaragó, and Betti Kohn, and their residence: Bonyhád.

Detail from 1886 marriage record of Samu[el] Hollander and Anna Honnenvald

Leopold's death record lists his occupation as házaló (peddler).

Birth records for Bonyhád, Tolna, Hungary, provide me with the names of the children of Leopold and Babette, born between 1863 and 1883: Samuel, Rosalie, Herman, Hanni, Moritz, Abram, and Ignatz. Another son, Adolf, has Leopold and Babette listed on his marriage record.

I previously shared the death record for Leopold Hollander, who died on February 8, 1907, in Bonyhád of végelgyengülés (old age).

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Ancestry Database (Social Security Applications and Claims Index)

I've been checking out the new U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 at Not every possible name is going to be found in this relatively new database (not by a long shot), but for those which are there, it is possible to find some new information or confirm theories.

In this database, I found Adele (Reisner) Levitt, a granddaughter of Max Levitt, my husband's great-grandfather who changed his name from Levitas to Levitt because he thought Levitas sounded too fancy. I have found no record of him or his descendants using the surname Levitas in America. (However, Max's brother Emanual still used the surname Levitas.)

Well, according to this database, in Adele's Social Security application, she listed her parents as Jacob Reisner and Rebecca Levitas. I have never seen Rebecca's last name referred to as Levitas - only Levitt. Although Max (Rebecca's father and Adele's grandfather) had been using Levitt since at least 1903, when he became a naturalized citizen, it appears that the family still recognized that the name used before immigration was Levitas (or Lewites).

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ Goldstein of Romania and New Jersey

I am using the Surname Saturday prompt to review the ancestral lines for my husband's family.

The earliest Goldstein whose name I know may not have even been a Goldstein!

Isaac lived in Iasi, Romania. Family lore said that his surname was Yancu and that the name was changed to Goldstein at Ellis Island. However, (1) names were never changed at Ellis Island, and (2) I found Moische Goldstein on a passenger list with the surname Goldstein AND referencing his father in Iasi, Romania, as Itzik Goldstein. Moische Goldstein arrived in New York on August 3, 1914. This is the second page of his passenger list record.

The name and complete address of nearest relative or friend
in country whence alien came:
father: Itzik Goldstein
Strada Ruksanska Yassy
Isaac Yancu was married to Sheva Moskowitz (listed as Scheiba on her daughter's death certificate). I have one photograph of her. They had six sons and one daughter. I'm not sure of the birth order and don't have much primary source information for the following:
  • Max (1892-1956) - lived in New York City and was the first to emigrate to America. I have written about him and his family.
  • Anna (1895-1918) - emigrated with Morris in 1914 and died in New York. I shared her death certificate here.
  • Moische / Morris (1897-1965) - see below.
  • Mendel - emigrated to Israel.
  • Shmuel-Leib Yancu - emigrated to Israel. See a photograph of him here and here.
  • Pineu Goldstein - remained in Romania. See his photograph here, though my mother-in-law always thought that this photograph was of the youngest brother.
  • Usher - is remembered as the youngest and he remained in Romania.
Son Morris' gravestone has the inscription: Moshe Hersh bar Yitzchak Halevi, which indicates his father, a Levite, was named Yitzchak. I'm still waiting on FindAGrave photo requests for sister, Anna, and brother, Max, of Morris (buried at Mount Judah Cemetery, Ridgewood, Queens) in order to see what the Hebrew on their gravestones is.

Based on my mother-in-law's memories, I believe Sheva died in the mid-1930s and Isaac died in the late 1930s, both in Romania. Although there is a story that Sheva came to America and was sent back to Romania for health reasons, I have not found any evidence of this.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ Handler of Yugoslavia and Ohio

Surname Saturday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. I have decided to use this prompt to review the ancestral lines for my husband's family.

The earliest Handler whose name I know are brothers Aaron Handler and Tzvi Hersh (or Harry) Handler. After Aaron's first wife died (they had four children together), he married the daughter of his brother, whose name I believe is Rozalia (She also went by Rosie, Szali, and Sally - see Different Names-Same Person.) According to U.S. records that I have found, they lived in or near Ilok, in a part of eastern Europe that is currently in Croatia, but has previously been considered part of Hungary and Yugoslavia. It is believed that Aaron was a large landowning farmer.

Here is a website (Macrohistory: Worldhistory) with a changing map of Europe from WWI to 2000. I have taken screen shots and done my best to show where Ilok is situated: at the point of the arrow in each map.

1914: Ilok was in Hungary

1919-1938: Ilok was in Yugoslavia

1956: Ilok was still in Yugoslavia

2000: Ilok is now in Croatia.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dr. Matthew Levitas ~ Is He the Unknown Graduate?

Last week, I shared a photo of an unknown graduate. This photograph has been kept by my mother-in-law's family for many decades - an academic graduation was a significant milestone for an immigrant Jewish family and the parents of this graduate likely shared this photograph with their extended family.

I am theorizing that this is a photograph of Matthew S. Levitas, a first cousin of my husband's grandmother. (I have written about him before.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wordless Wednesday ~ Unknown Graduate

I have had this photograph in my collection for several years. It comes from my mother-in-law's side of the family and is a graduation photo. (See the scroll in the young man's left hand and the books under his right.)

Unfortunately, no one knows who this young man is, though it's believed to be a relative of my grandmother-in-law (Rose Levitt Goldstein).

Kaufman Studio, 287 E. Houston St., New York is the photographer. New York City Directories at has Sol Kaufman working at that address from 1908 to 1918, and likely longer, but I only checked a few years.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Celebrating Blogiversary #4

This is blog post number 164 over the past four years. Although I have not blogged as much recently, I still enjoy writing about my husband's Jewish ancestry (in Eastern Europe and America), and often try to fit in a post that can be helpful to other researchers using these not as common or more challenging resources.

There were two big finds during this past year:

First, I believe I found the family of my mother-in-law's grandfather, Max Levitt, in Husiatyń, Galicia. See:

My Best Recent Genea-Prize
Levitas / Lewites from Austria
Mappy Monday - Husiatyń

Second, having a second cousin find my blog and contact me was great. When I learned that he made a video recording interview of his aunts (and my father-in-law's first cousins) and posted it on YouTube as Mishpacha Tapes Helen and Esther 1988, that was icing on the cake! See:

Connecting with a Handler Cousin: Blog as Cousin Bait for the first post about this connection. I have tagged all my blog posts mentioning this 1988 video with Mishpacha Tape. I plan to share more about this tape.

I also connected with a fourth cousin on the Segal line through DNA testing. See Connecting With a Segal Cousin to read about our meeting.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you continue to read and enjoy!